Father Steinhouse rose and leaned forward on his desk. “If you won’t make your confession, I can’t perform the ceremony.”
Willow had her arms in her coat sleeves. “I’ve made my confession. I didn’t want to say so because I was too embarrassed, but I went to someone else.” It wasn’t a lie. She’d told Papa. He was a priest to her, and her condition hurt him as much as anyone. “I wish I could tell you where I went, but I know you guys take oaths and can’t discuss confessions. If I make another confession,” she shrugged, “wouldn’t that be like calling the absolution he gave me a lie?”
As she walked toward the door, I cheered her. At the same time, I wanted to linger, hoping the priest would realize how even his unspoken beliefs about females, the church doctrine he greedily accepted as his own, bled through and bruised Willow. I ached to discuss with him the church’s insistence that females confess their angers, doubts, and fears (mostly church inflicted) to males. How different might the world be if through the centuries males were required to confess their deeds to women: their wars, genocides, and the perpetrated lies about females in their “good” books. Suppose they had to confess their rapes and acts of incest to women, and women meted out the punishments? On what strange planet did sinners only confess to their equally-guilty cronies?
My war was not with all males. There was always Thomas to remember, beautiful and gentle, and every inch male. A man who could pull me close and without hesitancy whisper, “I’m sorry.” A man who could carry stones up a ladder for a chimney, heft a massive wooden yoke over the shoulders of a pair of oxen, kill a rattle snake with a rock in his hand, and weep over the genocide of the American Indian. A man who thought a woman’s cleaved fingers important enough to document and an infant girl half way around the world worth risking his life to rescue.
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